Monthly Archives: October 2009

Transformative Anthropology – update on project

draft view of some of the nodes of transformative anthropology–click for lightbox enlargement

I’m sorting out the turning point, concerned with the presentation of my main research focus in the open-source of the web.

The first step was to create a page for the work-in-progress notes about so-called Transformative Anthropology. This will be temporary in the sense that I’m will eventually shutter the Transformative Tools blog, folding it back into Explorations (here,) and then reconfiguring the SquareONE web site so it can allow ‘research subjects’ (you?) to input their personal recollections.

Those personal recollections are qualified by the parameters given by my research into life-altering serendipities; although the more meaningful term is a necessary conceptual coinage: chance strategic contingencies. This is the kind of recollection I’m interested in documenting.

I’ll track changes to the Transformative Anthropology page—as updates–here, yet, at some point in the near future, those notes will be organized by the structure of the reconfigured ‘main’ web site.

(The music sites, nogutsnoglory studios and Rhythm River, aren’t effected by any of this.)

The principal objective sometime in the not-so-near future, is to beta test experiential learning tools based in the as yet un-implicated instrumental, (thus constructivist,) conceptions of Transformative Anthropology. Yet, here’s a clue: would a learner assimilate to a novel, modestly salutary, self-understanding, were he or she to go through a learning process aimed to sensitize the learner to the ingredient of chance strategic contingencies discoverable in their own life? Are life’s chance strategic events consequential as part of the terms for self-reflection?

Ha! I don’t know, yet, if I’m onto something.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Spiritual Materialism

(click for lightbox enlargement)

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Almost Envy

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Urban Integralism

(moved from -pages-)

excerpted from Integral Urbanism by Nan Ellin. Originally posted on February 6, 2009.

(from the Introduction)

In Western society, generally, we are witnessing a gradual reorientation
toward valuing slowness, simplicity, sincerity, spirituality, and sustainability in
an attempt to restore connections that have been severed over the last century
between body and soul, people and nature, and among people. For architects
and planners, this has been apparent in the shift from the machine as model
(Modernism), to cities of the past as model (Postmodernism), to seeking models
simultaneously in ecology and new information technologies (e.g., thresholds,
ecotones, tentacles, rhizomes, webs, networks, the World Wide Web, the
Internet). Along with these new metaphors, there has been a fascination with
the border, edge, and in-between, as concepts as well as actual places.
In contrast to the earlier models that bespoke aspirations for control and
perfection, these current models suggest the importance of connectedness and
dynamism as well as the principle of complementarity. On the ecological
threshold, where two ecosystems meet, for instance, there is competition and
conflict but also synergy and harmony. There is fear but also adventure and
excitement. It is not about good or bad, safety or danger, pleasure or pain,
winners or losers. All of these occur on the threshold if it is thriving.

As ecological success is measured
by the capacity of our planet to support all life forms,
urban design success should be measured
by its capacity to support humanity.
Learning from best practices,
an Integral Urbanism offers guideposts along that path
toward a more sustainable human habitat.

In contrast to escapist, cynical, or purely mercenary tendencies,
Integral Urbanism aims to heal wounds
inflicted upon the landscape
by the modern and postmodern eras
as manifest in:
Visually unappealing places
Impoverishment of public space and heightened perception of fear
Diminished sense of place and sense of community &
Environmental degradation.

To accomplish this, Integral Urbanism demonstrates five qualities:

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under integral

The Da Wilber Code

Barry, a psychologist, has on his blog created a fantasy about a conversation between new age gurus Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen.

It’s short and strikes the bullseye, and, is very very funny. Great timing too because Barry’s parody is in the context of up-and-coming performances like this one, Conversations With the Masters. The answers to important questions such as:

* Would you like to learn the critically essential keys to human growth?

will be explored. The event is free, but bring your checkbook.

Daniel Gustav Anderson on his for-the-turnstiles blog declares:

For the purposes of scholarship and making knowledge, it is over for Ken Wilber.

This is hard to argue with after the travesty provided by Wilber’s book, Integral Spirituality, with its appalling instantiation of integral mathematics.

What jumps out for me, aside from the evidence found in Wilber’s recent books, is how completely disinterested Wilber is in the integral-like scholarship that has followed from psychological and anthropological and post-modern turns in a number of fields—over forty+ years.

Three of which, among many, are: organizational development, semiotics, and anthropology. Karl Weick has for years surveyed and analyzed the organization by galumphing through the quadrants, except his important work isn’t unfolding in integral terms or from an integral framework.

Earlier this year a colleague turned me onto the semiotician Paul J. Thibault’s Brain, Mind And the Signifying Body: An Ecosocial Semiotic Theory. It’s not technically a work based in wilberianism’s model, but it fits the bill for an integral scholarship in the superior terms offered outside of Wilber’s badly aging model.

Just sayin’.

See article about Dr. Weick, Karl Weick and the Aesthetics of Contigency (pdf) – Eisenberg, E. (2006). Organization Studies, 27(11).

Weick is author of three essential books in organizational studies: Sensemaking In Organizations; The Social Psychology of Organizing; Making Sense of the Organization: The Impermanent Organization.

Leave a Comment

Filed under humor, Karl Weick

Quinttych – Worship At the Beginning

Worship At the Beginning

Sorting computer files, I found the last part of my five part assemblage.

Here’s the full piece. If you click on it it will open up a lightbox enlargement. (The close-button is in the lower right.)

I suppose for the time being, or maybe for forever, it’s title shall be Untitled Quinttych. The actual individual assemblages are 3″ x 3″, so the computer screen offers the best view. Each provides a kind of ‘where’s Waldo’ exercise because there’s a lot of things hidden in the layers.

From the top:

    Ancient Hunt
    Virgin Meeting
    Sitting In Konya
    Dancing For All
    Worship At the Beginning

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gold Men Sex

The Man Who Crashed the World

by Michael Lewis.

Toward the end of 2005, Cassano promoted Al Frost, then went looking for someone to replace him as the ambassador to Wall Street’s subprime-mortgage-bond desks. As a smart quant who understood abstruse securities, Gene Park was a likely candidate. That’s when Park decided to examine more closely the loans that A.I.G. F.P. had insured. He suspected Joe Cassano didn’t understand what he had done, but even so Park was shocked by the magnitude of the misunderstanding: these piles of consumer loans were now 95 percent U.S. subprime mortgages. Park then conducted a little survey, asking the people around A.I.G. F.P. most directly involved in insuring them how much subprime was in them. He asked Gary Gorton, a Yale professor who had helped build the model Cassano used to price the credit-default swaps. Gorton guessed that the piles were no more than 10 percent subprime. He asked a risk analyst in London, who guessed 20 percent. He asked Al Frost, who had no clue, but then, his job was to sell, not to trade. “None of them knew,” says one trader. Which sounds, in retrospect, incredible. But an entire financial system was premised on their not knowing—and paying them for their talent!

By the time Joe Cassano invited Gene Park to London for the meeting in which he would be “promoted” to the job of creating even more of these ticking time bombs, Park knew he wanted no part of it. He announced that, if he was made to take the job, he’d quit. (Had he taken it he would now be a magazine cover.)

Excellent article about the “delusion chamber” at A.I.G.

After tens of hours of research, and, especially in the academic economics journals now publishing research about the financial implosion, I’m beginning to get a purchase on what transpired.(And, to wrap your head around the structure of the financial crisis, is to comprehend how, in effect, a mountain of money could be conjured out of nothing.) It’s very complicated, but, where I end up is not complicated: like it was at Enron, the idea was to make as much money as one could and to do so without any thought about any consequence except for the consequence of riches.

Nowadays, there’s a bit of a Faustian bargain at work in the recovery. And, personal responsibility seems to be something only the little people are required to embrace. Many of those responsible have demonstrated that there is, in fact, such a thing as a free lunch. I predict our society will be soon again afflicted with another round of ‘shadow economy’ once the masculine players regain their potency.

The gambling—with other peoples’ money—seems to take place on its own weird planet. I don’t imagine for a minute that there’s some underlying set of moral principles that is common to the gamblers.What can you say about someone whose reputation for daring and acumen has been erased by their own hubris and stupidity, yet, nevertheless, sit licking wounds with $100,000,000 in the bank?

Leave a Comment

Filed under current events

The Health of Money

The God In the Machine, Lewis H. Lapham, Lapham’s Quarterly, V.II,No.3

President Barack Obama during his first months in office seldom has missed a chance to liken the country’s healthcare system to an unburied corpse, which, if left lying around in the sun by the 111th Congress, threatens to foul the sweet summer air of the American dream. The prognosis doesn’t admit of a second or third opinion. Whether on call to the Democratic left or the Republican right, the attending politicians and consulting economists concur in their assessment of the risk posed by the morbid emissions. The country now pays an annual fee of $2.4 trillion for its medical treatments (16 percent of GDP); the costs continue to lead nowhere but up. Fail to embalm or entomb the putrefying debt, and it’s only a matter of time—ten years, maybe twenty—before the pulse disappears from the monitors tracking the heartbeat on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

So say the clinicians in Washington, and I don’t quarrel with the consensus. If I can’t make sense of some of the diagnoses or most of the prescriptions, at least I can understand that what is being discussed is the health of America’s money, not the well-being of its people. The symptoms present as vividly as the manifestations of plague listed in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, but they show up as an infection of the body politic caused by the referral of the country’s medical care to the empathy of accountants and the wisdom of drug dealers.

If I can’t make sense of some of the diagnoses or most of the prescriptions, at least I can understand that what is being discussed is the health of America’s money, not the well-being of its people.

This is the most cogent comment about the current debate over reform of the health care system I’ve encountered.

Thank goodness for Lewis Lapham. More:

The medieval church marketed its healthcare product as the forgiveness of sin, in the form of Papal indulgences intended to preserve the vitality of the immortal soul. In an age that places a higher value on the flesh than it does on the spirit, the guarantees on the label promise to restore the blooms of eternal youth. To the extent that we construe physical well-being as the most cherished commodity sold in the supermarkets of human happiness, we stand willing to spend more money on the warrants of longevity than we spend on lottery tickets and cocaine. Our consumption of medical goods and services constitutes the performance of what Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisure Class characterized as a devout observance—the futility and superfluous expense of the exercise testifying to its value as an act of worship. The more health product that we conspicuously consume, the more of us feel conspicuously ill. To express our devotion we magnify every “riddling distemper” the flesh is heir to, deprive ourselves of food and blood, discover diseases where none exist, incise ourselves with liposuction and the angiogram. The pharmaceutical companies step up the dosages of terror in their print and television advertising; volunteer committees of vigilance gather in city parks to keep a sharp watch for obese wastrels who neglect their aerobic exercises, smoke cigarettes, fail to ingest their antioxidants, refuse to drink their pomegranate juice. We learn to think, as do the characters in a Woody Allen movie, that we become commendable, or at least interesting, by virtue of the stigmata verifying our status as victims and attesting to our worth as patients.

My only gripe with the Medicine issue is that for whatever reason, Ivan Illich, (author of the classic Medical Nemesis,) wasn’t included.

The Lapham Quarterly is the single most edifying and provocative publication now being produced in the sphere of the ‘public intellect.’ Of course, Lapham himself is a terrific essayist. As it turns out he’s also a visionary assembler of ideas, given the brilliant collections organized around themes he’s issued in the form of his journal. Above all, The Lapham Quarterly honors the intellect of the reader by juxtaposing classical and modern thinking around the themes, and then allowing the reader to reason through a robust clash of historical and contemporary perspectives. It’s not all words. Each edition includes graphic evidence and images aimed to do what 1,000 words cannot.

The web site for The Lapham Quarterly has evolved to offer content not in the journal. Highly recommended. At the web site are Lapham’s introductions for each issue and its centering theme. Right now, Lapham is second-to-none as a commentator on current events.

Leave a Comment

Filed under adult learning, current events, journalism & writing

Abe Lincoln & Edmund Burke Rolled In Their Graves—“Not a web site but a platform!” said Michael ‘How did I get this job?’ Steele. Well, head on over! It seems a no brainer in more ways than one to go check out the new citadel of conservatism, GOP.COM.

In an earlier post, C.I.N.O., I had reason to post Russell Kirk’s 10 Principles of Conservatism. For comparison purposes, here’s the link to the source. Ahhh, comparison to what you mutter. How about the principles Republicans believe in, live by?

(1) We’re fortunate to live in America

(2) The Republican Party believes that the United States has been blessed with a unique set of individual rights and freedoms available to all.

(3) You can be what you are, and become what you are capable of becoming.

(4) The Republican Party is inspired by the power and ingenuity of the individual to succeed through hard work, family support and self-discipline. Helping those around you is worthwhile

(5) The Republican Party believes in the value of voluntary giving and community support over taxation and forced redistribution.
Small government is a better government for the people

(6) The Republican Party, like our nation’s founders, believes that government must be limited so that it never becomes powerful enough to infringe on the rights of individuals. You know what to do with your money better than government.

(7) The Republican Party supports low taxes because individuals know best how to make their own economic and charitable choices.
Free markets keep people free.

(8) The Republican Party is supportive of logical business regulations that encourage entrepeneurs to start more businesses so more individuals can enjoy the satisfaction and fruits of self-made success.

(9) Our Armed Forces defend and protect our democracy

(10) The Republican Party is committed to preserving our national strength while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

(11) The Republican Party is guided by these principles as it develops solutions to the challenges facing America.

These principles, vis a vis conservatism, are mostly puerile, in comparison to the mature articulation provided by the example of Mr. Kirk. There seem to be omissions, since there’s no talk of the founders, or about Judeo-Christian values, of abortion.

I note this and think to myself how it is often presumed by conservatives of a certain didactic bent that if a person can deploy sound rationality to the problem of governance, the person will inexorably be led by the power of reason to ‘conservative’ principles. However, I don’t see how this same procedure could lead to these particular principles.

For example, one can experience the problem in any attempt to reason through how it could be that conservatism is the natural result of deeply apprehending the ethic and philosophy of all those Christ-centered, tradition-embracing, founding fathers. After all, such a working-through is only made problematic by the bald fact of those same founders—for the most part—not being conservative, and, being instead, revolutionaries. Heck, some were Unitarians!

To travel through was for me split between the feel of being a tourist in a strange land, and, being nominated to be a member of one of the oddest focus groups imaginable. The most startling pitch found there is directed at bringing African-Americans back into the folds of their ‘natural home,’ the party of Lincoln.

On the Republican Heroes pages, 18 such ‘American Heroes-Patriots’ are highlighted. They are:

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
Pinchney Pinchblack (1837-1921)
Jose Celso Barbosa (1857-1921)
Clara Barton (1821-1912)
Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)
Joseph Rainey (1832-1887)
Octavius Catto (1839-1871)
Jackie Robinson (1919-1972)
Hiram Revels (1827-1901)
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
Edward Brooke (1919- )
Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969)
Everett Dirkson (1896-1969)
Frank Johnson (1918-1999)
Mary Terrell (1863-1954)
John Langston (1829-1897)
Ellen Foster (? – ?)

Six white guys. Four patriots born in the 20th century. No Jesse Owens! It’s hard to figure out what the criteria was, EXCEPT, the obvious and cynical criteria hitched to the GOP being the party of Lincoln—who freed the slaves—jumps out. Factoid: John F. Kennedy won 60% of the black vote in 1960; Truman 67% in 1948; Obama 96% in 2008. (See also Nancy Weiss, Farewell to the party of Lincoln: Black politics in the age of FDR, for the relevant earlier history.

Republican thought leaders have offered a variety of crude explanations of why African-Americans vote Democratic, even though the Democratic Party was the home of most white racists for almost a century after the civil war. These explanations echo the ur-standard supposition: that if only one has the chops to think it through, one would embrace the natural ‘rightness’ of the Republican cum conservative creed.

(See Francis Rice in Human Events, Why Martin Luther King was A Republican He writes there:

Today, Democrats, in pursuit of their socialist agenda, are fighting to keep blacks poor, angry and voting for Democrats.”

Let’s be good empiricists and wonder about what would be the result were we to investigate the quantification of poverty rates among African-Americans over the various Democratic and GOP administrations, starting from the post-war era. What do you guess you would find? Do you imagine increases in black poverty tracks more closely to Democrats being in power, or more closely to business cycles? How; what, do business cycles track?

Here’s Rice, again, writing in February, on the web site of the National Black Republican Association:

The euphoria over the election of Michael Steele as the head of the GOP came from the fact that he was elected as chairman of the Republican Party because of the content of his character, not the color of his skin.

His historic election makes him the rightful inheritor of the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party’s first president, and the realization of the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Republican and our nation’s most revered civil rights leader.

It is only fitting that Steele’s election as the head of the Republican Party took place during the bicentennial of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln and the year of the assumption of power by President Barack Hussein Obama, a black liberal Democrat who falsely portends to be the inheritor of Lincoln’s Legacy and the realization of Dr. King’s Dream.

For the first time in the history of our Republic — since our founders established this nation on Judeo-Christian values anchored on a fundamental truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — the fate of our nation rests in the hands of two black men.

We are in a battle for the soul of America. Which black leader will determine the future of America? Will we follow Obama and the Democratic Party down the path of failed socialist policies that promote urban decay and generational poverty, or will we heed the call of Steele and the Republican Party to continue embracing our traditional values that have made this country great? The choice is ours.

Will we choose freedom or Uncle Sam’s Plantation?

I think it fair enough to use Rice’s wingnutty ideation as context for’s cynical and hopeless appeal to African-American voters. The point is: the confabulation of this alternative history is not in the slightest manner reasonable, or conservative; nor does it correspond to the actual voting record and policy commitments of the Republican Party after 1964. It would take a sea-change in the GOP to re-associate itself with the ethos and radical figure of Abraham Lincoln.

Ironically, the Republican attempt to re-associate the Democrats with their past also wishes to co-opt the radical liberal principle that ‘all men are created equal.’ That this comes during an era when the Republican Party has boiled itself away to the dregs of white privilege makes the alternative universe of a place where such hideous and cynical appeals are framed to be de rigueur.

Leave a Comment

Filed under sociology

Where There?

I’m mostly in the camp (in meta-psychology,) of Jerry Fodor, Although, broadly speaking of my own prejudices, whether the subject is folk psychology, theory of mind, or experimental philosophy, I’m also old-fashioned, so William James is evoked whenever I’m digging on the strange epistemological conundrums, problems which don’t dissuade anybody from anything in any practical, everyday, useful, “Jamesian” sense.

Anyway, Mr. Fodor reviews Michael Type, Consciousness Revisited, in the current TLS, under the title, It Ain’t In the Head. (article likely not available forever at this link)

Here’s Fodor’s attractive opening paragraph.

Philosophy, you understand, is a very pharmacopoeia of cures that are worse than the corresponding diseases. This started a long while ago; perhaps with Plato’s suggestion that, although there is a problem about how so many different things can all be chairs, philosophy can fix it: there is only one chair that is really a chair, the Chair on which no one can sit; the One Chair that is in Heaven. This kind of philosophical overkill, having once got started, has never stopped. Thus Descartes: the way to explain how your mind causes your body to move is to say that the pineal gland performs a miracle each time it does. Or Berkeley: the way to avoid scepticism about perceptual beliefs is to say that chairs, tables and everything else are made of ideas. Or Wittgenstein and Ryle: the solution of the epistemological problem about how anybody can know whether anybody else is in pain is that (other people’s) pains reduce to their pain behaviours, there being, by assumption, no epistemological problem about recognizing them. Or take Carnap and Ayer: the way to understand the semantics of “electron” and other such “theoretical terms” is to hold that electrons are “logical constructions” out of the pointer readings of experimental instruments. Or take Frege: given that Venus and the Morning Star are the very same thing, there’s this worry about how John can believe that he sees Venus while not believing that he sees the Morning Star. One avoids the worry by saying that, though the two expressions refer to the same thing in sentences like “John saw Venus” (the Morning Star), they do not refer to the same thing in sentences like “John believes (thinks/knows) that he saw Venus” and “John believes (thinks/knows) that he saw the Morning Star”.

Good read. link

Where is this moving? Hmmm, see movement there? where?

If you can intentionally stop the ‘movement,’ reflect upon where the ‘what’ of such stopping, or upon ‘what is the there’ of such stopping. Oh, and let me know what you come up with—there’s no right answer.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Sweat Lodge of World Transformation

Scary, but also worth a read: For Some Seeking Rebirth, Sweat Lodge Was End John Doughtery – New York Times: October 21, 2009

The story summarizes the horrific manslaughter that resulted from a sweat lodge conducted by new age con man James Arthur Ray in Sedona, October 8. Three died, eighteen were hospitalized, and, Ray has yet to be charged. Ray herded paying customers into a dangerous environment and then—literally—allowed three to perish. His state of consciousness can easily be characterized: oblivious. On the website for the deadly new age huckster Ray, he offers bona-fides.

Throughout his life, James Arthur Ray has studied and been exposed to a wide diversity of teachings and teachers – from his collegiate learning and the schools of the corporate world, to the ancient cultures of Peru, Egypt and the Amazon. Armed with this comprehensive and diverse background in behavioral sciences, coupled with his experience as a successful, entrepreneur, and an avid thirst for spiritual knowledge, James boasts the unique and powerful ability to blend the practical and mystical into a usable and easy-to-access formula for achieving true wealth across all aspects of life.

I’ll return to this shortly.

Speaking of hucksters, here’s some excerpts of a pitch received from Ken Wilber, October 15.

This is Ken Wilber, and I wanted to take a moment to write you and tell you of the first and only organization that is the exclusive outlet of my Integral work and all projects connected with it. The organization is called Integral Life, co-founded by myself and my CEO, Robb Smith.

I’m truly excited by this organization and its development, because for the first time in history, although there are hundreds of projects and organizations and websites inspired by my work, this is the first one that has my personal seal of approval. The projects, partner organizations, academic journals and books, blogs and forums all have a quality checked by me to personally guarantee that my Integral model is being used accurately. That’s the problem with these hundreds of other applications of my work. As much as I truly appreciate the inspired use of my model by them, there are often misinterpretations of its leading ideas, resulting in less than truly Integral results.

What is an ‘integral result?’

Here’s what it looks like, symbolically speaking:

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under current events

If You Can’t Have Everything

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy 75th Abdullah!

Ibrahim & Hoon
Roughly in this picture of the two of us, Abdullah Ibrahim is the age I am now. Twenty years ago, on the sidewalk in Middlebury, Vermont.

Although we’re no longer in touch*, my beloved friend Abdullah Ibrahim, turn 75 today. He is, to put it simply and also grandly, the deepest musician the continent of Africa has produced so far. To say “so far” with the musical Africa, is to imply a long period of time: the expressly musical sound world of humans may well have begun in Africa many hundreds of thousands of years ago.

As a composer, bandleader, instrumentalist, he has over a 50+ year career created an immense body of work aimed by his deep intelligence at the receptive human heart. This is a very serious operation! For him, music comes to the manifest world from its origin in the divine vibratory chain of becoming. So, his intention attends to the possibility presented by the sensitive and receptive listener. Well, this is as I have heard it. From this, the possibility of transmission is realized. So, for example, his people’s music synched up with his people’ struggles, and, struck THE chord.

Dr. Ibrahim’s capabilities extend beyond music. He is an educator in diverse fields that include history, martial arts, nutrition, and other healing arts. He is a poet and a world class raconteur. When he returned to Africa after its liberation, it once again became his home base.

In 1996, I commenced a web site, Abdullah Ibrahim’s Mantra Modes, devoted to his artistry, and six years later stopped updating it when his own official web site came online. At the Mantra Modes link there’s lots of content, including some recollections evoked by our brief association.

On the nogutsnoglory studios blog I have, today, delineated a very concise recommendation of recordings.

*he emailed me this year a single sentence: “Is that you?” Given a history of his providing me with learning opportunities, I couldn’t take it as just a simple question! I give my self low marks for how I handled those opportunities way-back-when, yet, nevertheless, I have retained some of the threads. His impact on me remains great, and I remain grateful.

Leave a Comment

Filed under music

Do Particles Bounce?

Deepak Chopra, the new age maven, regularly contributes to the Huffington Post. Today, he starts out with this:


This year, the world celebrated Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. But now that all the backslapping is nearing an end, it may be time to reflect on where things really stand. When Darwin finished writing “Origin of Species” in the fall of 1859 — exactly 150 years ago — the theory of evolution became part of the Newtonian world picture. However, since that time, major puzzles of mainstream science have forced a re-evaluation of the nature of the universe that goes far beyond anything Darwin could have imagined.

I’m trying to fathom Chopra writing his opening paragraph and not feeling as if he is about to fling into the Huffington winds something both patronizing to Darwin, and, something idiotic. Alas, to the tune of cash registers ringing, Chopra takes his insights seriously. No, this spiritual advisor to Oprah is onto to something with his colleague, Robert Lanza: the spiritualization of solipsism! Via quantum mechanics!!!

Science obviously investigates what it is able to investigate. There’s no move to re-evaluate the nature of the universe, when nature is posed as a lumpen “nature” in the way that Chopra means, and has meant in the past. Still, Chopra is playing a deceptive word game here too. He actually believes science is quite incapable when it comes to the re-evaluation he’s on about.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under science

Lunar Times

The shadow is not the whole of the unconscious personality. It represents unknown or little-known attributes and qualities of the ego-aspects that mostly belong to the personal sphere and that could just as well be con- scious. In some aspects, the shadow can also consist of collective factors that stem from a source outside the individual’s personal life. When an individual makes an attempt to see his shadow, he becomes aware of (and often ashamed of) those qualities and impulses he denies in himself but can plainly see in other people-such things as egotism, mental laziness, and sloppiness; unreal fantasies, schemes, and plots; carelessness and cowardice; inordinate love of money and possessions-in short, all the little sins about which he might previously have told himself: “That doesn’t matter; nobody will notice it, and in any case other people do it too.”

If you feel an overwhelming rage coming up in you when a friend reproaches you about a fault, you can be fair1y sure that at this point you will find a part of your shadow, of which you are unconscious. It is, of course, natural to become annoyed when others who are “no better” criticize you because of shadow faults.

Joseph Henderson, Jungian Analyst

There may come a point when the lay observer lurches back from being enthralled by the amazing conspiracy freak-a-thon. He asks himself: ‘What is so compelling–to you–about the garden variety magical participation you’re chewing up (your) valuable time voyeuristically looking upon?”

The main thing for me is that a robust socio-psycho-historical snapshot has to have enough depth of field in it to capture the background where the shadow of regressive dynamics comes into resolution. As phenomenologist, this interests me. So, looking into such a picture, an embarrassment of super loopy psycho-dynamic riches is revealed. Ummm, wordplay intended.

Did you know Orly Taitz is outside-looking in on the main birther action these days?
Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under social psychology, organizational development

I Love Ardi

Huge news in the field of paleoanthropology: in an unprecedented publication of eleven papers in Science, researchers will release today the fruits of 15 years of investigation of fossil remains, including much of a skeleton of Ardipithecus Ramidus.

Evidently, the research argues for a shake-up* of the evolutionary tree. John Hawkes:

What’s the big deal?

If you want a basic description of the facts, here they are. Today’s series of papers is basically unprecedented in paleoanthropology. There are eleven papers in total, giving comprehensive coverage of the anatomy, paleoenvironment, and evolutionary interpretation of a new skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus and dental remains representing more than 30 additional individuals. They have been published simultaneously in a coordinated effort including excavation, faunal correlation, microscopy, palynology, CT-scanning, three-dimensional reconstruction, isotopic analysis, and lord knows what else.

It’s the closest thing we’ll ever see to a big science effort in the little field of human evolution – like Tim White was building a supercollider under everybody’s noses.

The skeleton has been nicknamed, “Ardi” and it is 4.4 million years old. The site is Aramis, Ethiopia, in the Middle Awash field research area. The skeleton includes most of both arms, except the humeri, both hands, both feet, the right leg, the left ox coxa and part of the right ilium, a bit of sacrum, a couple of vertebrae, and a near-complete skull and dentition. It’s a bit more complete than Lucy, although preserving different parts.

See John Hawkes’s Ardipithecus FAQ Ardi page

* White and colleagues 2009b give a long table of “derived” characters in Ardipithecus and Australopithecus, but they are “derived” only with reference to their inferred state in the human-chimpanzee LCA. But elsewhere in these papers, they argue that some of these “derived” characters are actually primitive morphologies for apes, for which chimpanzees are independently derived. For many of the dental features, if we supposed a Miocene ape ancestor, the broadened mandibular body, thicker enamel and so on would look primitive, not derived. In the table, they list upper and lower canine traits separately, and break them up into six or more for each. That’s a quick way of making one morphological change look like twelve or more instances of independent evolution. Talk about atomizing traits!

So I wonder if a real cladistic analysis might not place Ardipithecus with the australopithecines. Especially if it included a proper sampling of Miocene ape taxa.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized